In July, the Federal Register published notice of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) intent to promulgate new regulations related to “Made in the USA” and other unqualified U.S.-origin claims on product labels. Although the FTC has been enforcing its regulatory authority over the marketing of products as “Made in the USA” since 1940, the agency has not previously formally developed rules under this authority. In the notice, the FTC explained that stakeholders had expressed broad support for the development of formal rules that “could have a strong deterrent effect against unlawful [Made in the USA] claims without imposing new burdens on law-abiding companies.” In response, the FTC proposed to implement a Made in the USA Labeling Rule requiring that any marketer have a reasonable basis, at the time of making an unqualified Made in the USA representation, for claiming that “all or virtually all” of a product is made in the United States.
The agency requested public comment on the proposed regulations, setting a deadline of September 14th. Over the last week, several U.S. commercial fishing and shrimp industry organizations submitted comments in support of the FTC’s proposed rule. The Southern Shrimp Alliance filed comments emphasizing the need to interpret “Made in the USA” labeling requirements to cover false and misleading representations on restaurant menus where imported shrimp is marketed to consumers as being of domestic-origin. The Texas Shrimp Association explained that in a survey conducted by the organization in 2017, they found that 85 percent of non-chain restaurants that marketed their shrimp as wild-caught domestic shrimp were actually serving imported shrimp to their customers. The Louisiana Shrimp Association emphasized that false and misleading claims regarding the origin of shrimp sold by restaurants not only defrauded consumers but fatally undermined the marketing efforts of restaurants that do carry domestic shrimp. The American Shrimp Processors Association provided specific examples of false and misleading marketing of imported shrimp and encouraged the agency to support the ability of U.S. consumers to know where their shrimp was produced. And the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance called for, among other equally worthy proposals, the agency to establish a nation-wide FTC Seafood Fraud Task Force “to develop a long-term action plan to eliminate seafood fraud by a date certain.”
But beyond these comments, dozens of commercial shrimpers and shrimp business owners took the opportunity to express their personal support for greater enforcement of “Made in the USA” rules by the FTC. These industry members explained the fundamental importance of insuring that consumers can be confident in choosing to purchase domestic shrimp.
“Everyone in this industry knows that we have a superior product to offer to the American consumer,” said John Williams, the Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “The outpouring from across the shrimp industry in support of the FTC’s proposed rule reflects the frustration that we all feel that people continue to be bamboozled into buying imported shrimp. The time for selling foreign, pond-raised, contaminated shrimp as if it were freshly caught off of one of our shrimp boats is over and we will no longer tolerate the practice.”
Read the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s comments to the Federal Trade Commission here: https://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SSA-Comment-on-Made-in-USA-NPRM.pdf
Read the Texas Shrimp Association’s comments to the Federal Trade Commission here: https://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Texas-Shrimp-Association-Comment.pdf
Read the Louisiana Shrimp Association’s comments to the Federal Trade Commission here: https://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Louisiana_Shrimp_Association.pdf
Read the American Shrimp Processors Association’s comments to the Federal Trade Commission here: https://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/American_Shrimp_Processors_Association-Comment.pdf
Read the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance’s comments to the Federal Trade Commission here: https://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Gulf-of-Mexico-Reef-Fish-Shareholders-Alliance-Comment.pdf
Read the comments of commercial fishing businesses and individual shrimpers to the Federal Trade Commission here: https://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Collection-of-Shrimper-Comments.pdf